Home Editor's Pick How Tiger Hill And Tololing Peaks Were Captured Against All Odds

How Tiger Hill And Tololing Peaks Were Captured Against All Odds

In April-early May 1999, Col. Thakur deployed in Kashmir Valley, had gone on annual leave when the unit was ordered to move into the Kargil-Dras sector as the inputs about intrusions by Pakistani forces started getting alarming by the day.

As part of the 56 Brigade (belonging to 8 Mountain Division), the unit under the leadership of its second-in-command Lt Col. R. Vishwanathan, the unit moved to Dras and was told to evict ‘some’ Pakistani intruders sitting atop the Tololing peak and Point 4590.

Days after the battalion had reached Dras, Col Thakur (who had by then cut short his leave), made the first recce of the area even as ammunition and other stores were being dumped along the Bhimbat Nallah.

In his assessment, there were more than half a dozen terrorists, as was initially thought. The earlier battalion had been unable to make much progress and every time a patrol approached the peak, it came under intense fire.

Thakur surmised it was a professional and well-trained force, well armed and well-trained was perched at the top and was pinning down any Indian assault. He wanted more time and more firepower before launching an attack.

By then Brigade HQ and the higher senior officers were getting impatient and tried to put pressure on 18 Grenadiers. Thakur and Vishwanathan had meanwhile moved up to be near the attacking force and provide leadership.

Despite their best efforts however, success was proving to be elusive. At one point, an angry and desperate brigade commander Brig Amar Aul of 56 Brigade told Thakur to hand over the command of the battalion to his second-in-command Vishwanathan.

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A fine officer that he was, Vishwanathan refused, saying he could not do any better than what Thakur was doing. Shortly after this incident, 18 Grenadiers did manage to help 2 Raj Rif in gaining the first significant victory in the Kargil War but at considerable cost.

Thakur saw Vishwanathan die in his lap and was witness to so many of his men and JCOs sacrificing their lives. A month later, 18 Grenadiers also recaptured Tiger Hill.

Now, a quarter century later, standing at the base of the Tololing peak and in the shadow of Tiger Hill, Thakur, who later commanded the very Brigade and retired as a Brigadier, recalls those difficult days in this conversation, done mostly in Hindi. Guaranteed to give you goosebumps.

Watch previous episode from the ‘Kargil: 25 Years On’ series here:

Part I: How Batalik Was Won